Family Reunion

21 Apr 2003 | Sgt. Jose Montes 1st Marine Logistics Group

They both wear rank in the same grade E-4, one is a Marine corporal the other a Navy petty officer 3rd class. However one holds a higher billet; she's the mom.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Virginia L. Swayne, a corpsman with mortuary affairs and the battalion aid station at Camp Iwo Jima, and Cpl. Daniel L. Swayne, a Harrier power planes mechanic with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 at Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait, were reunited for about five hours at Camp Doha after a four-month separation.

"The last time I saw him was at Christmas in our hometown of Springfield, Mo.," said Virginia, who was in her first year of nursing school when she was called up to active duty.

Daniel, who has been in Kuwait over two months, never thought he'd see a familiar face when his unit left Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

"I didn't imagine I would get to see any of my loved ones here. My mom is the person I love the most and it's pretty cool she is out here," Daniel said.

The get-together took one day to plan, however Virginia began working on seeing her son the minute she stepped on Camp Pendleton, Calif.

On the plane ride she met a sergeant major being stationed at Al Jaber. She then wrote a letter for Daniel and handed it to him asking if he could deliver "the words of a mother to her son."

When the sergeant major arrived at Al Jaber, he sought out Daniel.

"At first I thought I was in trouble," said Daniel "but then he handed me the letter and I couldn't stop smiling. It was very overwhelming."

Virginia came to the public affairs tent at Camp Iwo Jima asking if they could help her find her son. After a few calls were made, Daniel was finally located and for the first time since Christmas she heard her son's voice.

With tears streaming down her face she told him she'd missed him and was trying her hardest to see him.

As the day progressed a meeting was set for the next day. Nightfall came and Virginia could not sleep knowing that the next day she would finally see her son.

Departure time was set for eight in the morning. The short 40-minute car ride down to Camp Doha seemed like an eternity for Virginia. She asked many times, "How far is this place?" and "Has my son called?" throughout the car ride.

Finally the walls of Camp Doha were in sight; the meeting place for the inseparable duo.

"He has always protected me," Virginia said of Daniel. She also has another son, 17-year-old Matthew who is back in Springfield.

As the vehicle Virginia rode in neared the exchange she looked around for her son, however neither he nor the vehicle he was in were in sight.

One hour later her waiting was over.

"She saw me first and came running to me," Daniel said. "I knew she was going to give me a hug but I wasn't expecting it."

The pair of Swaynes then got five hours to be with each other. Shopping at the post exchange was the first order of business. Both wanted to buy each other gifts on top of some necessities. While shopping Virginia got the chance to be a mother again, telling Daniel to get a spot on the top of his head checked out and also telling him to stop swearing, specially the "f" word.

"I hate that word," she said after he apologized.

While enjoying their lunch - Hardees for Daniel and a four-piece pepperoni pizza for Virginia - they conversed and caught up on the last four months.

Both were surprised to hear that each other flew in similar planes and stopped in Spain.

"Did you eat at that restaurant?" Daniel asked his mother. "No, but I did eat at the one next to it," Virginia replied.

As the family gathering ended, they gave each other a hug and Virginia asked if Daniel remembered what the letter she sent with the sergeant major said.

"Yes, that you are very proud of me and that you love me," he replied.

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1st Marine Logistics Group